Bahai News -- Harare Herald - Bahá'í Faith celebrates 50th anniversary

Last Updated: Saturday, 9 August 2003

Bahá'í Faith celebrates 50th anniversary

By Flora Teckie

The Bahá’í Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent religions. Its name comes from the name of the founder of the faith, Bahá’u’lláh, which means "Glory of God". A Bahá’í is a follower of Bahá’u’lláh.

The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is that humanity is one, regardless of race or ethnic background, and that the day has come for its unification into one global society.

Bahá’ís recognise that there is only one God, even though men have called Him by different names. God has revealed His Word throughout history by sending Divine Messengers who restate in every age,God’s purpose and will.

Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh were all Divine Messengers.

Each gave men God’s teachings to live by. The most recent of these Messengers, or Manifestations of God are the Báb (1819-1850), the Herald of the Baha’i Faith, and Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) the founder of the Bahá’í Faith.

Each one of the great religions brought by Messengers of God are divine in origin. Their basic spiritual teachings are the same and their aims and purposes are one. They differ only in their social laws and teachings. This is because the world is changing and developing and people have different needs at different times in history.

The social teachings are changed to meet these needs. Thus Bahá’ís believe that religion is the real basis of civilised life.

The Bahá’í Faith proclaims the necessity and inevitability of the unification of mankind, and the achievement of world peace.

Since humanity is coming of age, the unification of the human family and the building of a peaceful global society are now possible. Among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, which are vital to the achievement of this goal, are:

v That all religions are from one God and that their basic spiritual teachings are one.

v Each individual should investigate the truth for himself/ herself.

v Prejudice of every kind whether race, class, colour, creed, nation or religion must be abandoned.

v Religion and science should be in harmony with each other.

v Men and women should have equal rights, opportunities and privileges.

v An auxiliary international language is necessary in order to eliminate the communication barriers between people.

v Education should be compulsory and provided for all.

v Extremes of wealth and poverty should be eliminated.

v There is need for a world federation to uphold world peace.

The Bahá’í Faith offers a clear pattern for world order. It does not have a priesthood or professional clergy. The Bahá’í communities are administered and guided by elected institutions which operate at local, national and international levels.

Historical background

The Bahá’í Faith began in Persia (Iran) in 1844 when a young merchant called the Báb announced that He was a Messenger of God whose special mission was to prepare the people for the coming of the One spoken of in all the Holy Books, who would unite the world.

His Faith spread so rapidly that both the clergy and the government were alarmed.

Similar to the early days of the previous religions, the result was bitter persecution of the followers of the new Faith. The Báb was imprisoned and eventually martyred in 1850.

Some 20 000 of his followers were put to death in a series of massacres throughout Persia.

Bahá’u’lláh was the son of a Minister of State in Iran. His family was wealthy and distinguished. After Bahá’u’lláh announced support for the message of the Báb, He not only suffered the loss of all this worldly wealth, but was also subjected to imprisonment, torture and a series of banishments.

He was first exiled to Baghdad where, in 1863, He announced Himself as the One promised by the Báb.

From Baghdad, Bahá’u’lláh was sent to Constantinople, to Adrianople, and finally to Akka (Acre), in the Holy Land, where He arrived as a prisoner in 1868.

While in prison and in exile, He revealed the laws and teachings of His Faith, contained in a hundred volumes.

From Adrianople and later from Akka, Bahá’u’lláh addressed a series of letters to the kings and rulers of His day. He proclaimed to them the coming unification of humanity, world peace and the emergence of a world civilisation.

Bahá’u’lláh passed away in 1892 in Akka after 40 years of imprisonment and exile. His shrine is today the focal point of the Bahá’í world community.

At international level

At international level, the Bahá'í Faith has spread to every corner of the earth.

Bahá’ís are people of different national and racial backgrounds. However, the Bahá’í teachings have given them a higher loyalty — the loyalty to humanity. Bahá’ís have no racial segregation, because they believe that all men are equal before God.

They come from different economic and social classes. Through a common devotion, rich and poor mingle as equals and work together to establish a new world order

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Bahá'í Faith has become the second most widespread religion in the World.

The Bahá’í International Community, which enjoys a long standing consultative status with the United Nations, has been involved in a wide range of activities which include peace building, promoting human rights, equality of men and women, education, health and sustainable development.

The Bahá'í Faith in Zimbabwe

The Bahá'í Faith first came to Zimbabwe in 1953.

This year we are celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Bahá’í Faith in the country.

In 1955, the first indigenous person in Zimbabwe joined the Bahá'í Faith. He was immediately followed by several others.

It was in April of the same year that the first administrative body of the Bahá'í Faith on the local level, known as the "Local Spiritual Assembly" was formed in Harare.

From these humble beginnings, the Faith started spreading throughout the country.

In 1970, the first national administrative body of nine members, called the "National Spiritual Assembly" was formed and since then the growth of the Bahá'í Faith and its national activities have been under the supervision of this body.

Since then, thousands of people from all major tribes of Zimbabwe have become Bahá'ís, in hundreds of localities in urban and rural areas of the country.

Quotations from writings of Bahá’u’lláh

v "The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His Glory"

v "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."

v "Close your eyes to racial differences, and welcome all with the light of oneness."

v "Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship."

v "The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun"

v "Religion is, verily, the chief instrument for the establishment of order in the world, and of tranquillity amongst its peoples. . . . Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine."

For feedback please contact: nsazim@mweb.co.zw or teckie@mweb.co.zw

©Copyright 2003, Harare Herald (Zimbabwe, Africa)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://www.herald.co.zw/index.php?id=23683&pubdate=2003-08-09


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